2017 Vintage Report from Bruce Tyrrell – Edition 5
Fri, February 17th 2017 / No Comment
On Friday, 10 February I woke up at 3am to see the stars, went back to bed till 6am and woke to bloody drizzly rain. We only had about 2 mm, fined up after lunch with the southerly wind which blew the humidity away and dried everything out. We tested again that morning to try and find something to pick before the 40 plus temperatures that eventuated for the weekend. We kept hoping the forecasters had got it wrong but that didn’t happen.
Saturday morning picking started at 3am, with the Old Hut and the balance of the Black Ridge Shiraz. Sugar levels were between 13.5 and 14 baume, and the tonnage was spot on budget. The hand pickers went to Stevens Old Patch, which was all done by 10am before the heat arrived. There was no real wind on the Saturday, and despite the multiple warnings there was no fire danger.
The Shiraz fruit continues to come in, and is in good condition with amazing colours and flavours. We did not pick on Saturday night or Sunday as it was simply too hot. If the temperature is too high when you machine harvest, you have to hit the vines a lot harder, and so you do a lot of damage to the vines and next year’s crop. The forecast was for the temperature to drop to 22 degrees at 2am on Monday, and the plan was to start picking again then.
We sampled Sunday morning and the decisions really were not whether to pick or not, but in what order to pick.The heat of Saturday had dehydrated the berries, but we knew that would happen again on Sunday. Those two days took 15% to 20% of the juice out of the berries, but as the week has gone on about half of that has come back.
The rest of this week has been more logistic than anything else to get us finished before the rain tomorrow. So as I write this our Hunter Vintage is over apart from 3 tonnes of Cabernet, which has got at least a week to go and hopefully it survives the rain this weekend. We finished picking this morning with Pokolbin Hills Shiraz, the end of Stevens Glen Oak and DeBeyers Sangiovese.
It is only 35 days since we started picking Chardonnay for sparkling, and I think we will all remember this Vintage for the joy of picking clean fruit, and no mud. At the end of the day we have some very good wine in the cellar, our tonnages are about spot on budget, and we have a month to wait until we start in Heathcote.
M Bruce Tyrrell AM